Taiwanese in Norway take nationality case to UN

The Taiwanese in Norway Nationality Rectification Campaign recently announced it is planning to file another complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declared the case of Norway’s mislabeling of Taiwan nationals as “Chinese” invalid.

On May 5, the campaign’s leader, who goes by the name Joseph, and others filed a complaint to the ECHR in Strasbourg, France. The objection said the Norwegian government’s decision to register Taiwan nationals as Chinese citizens on their residence documentation is a violation of their right to personal identity, which campaign organizers argue is protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, according to a Taiwan Digital Diplomacy Association (TDDA) press release.

On July 8, the ECHR began reviewing the case, and on July 29, Judge Lorraine Schembri Orland ruled it was inadmissible and that “the matters complained of do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention or the Protocols thereto,” per the press release.

Joseph and the other campaigners expressed their disappointment by saying the Norwegian courts and the ECHR had not allowed them to present their arguments nor provideed “substantive reasoning for their decisions.” They also accused the judge of viewing their case as entirely political, without considering the legal factors.

Campaign organizers had recruited London-based lawyer Schona Jolly QC, chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, to present the case due to her knowledge of privacy and anti-discrimination law and strong opposition to China’s human rights violations, TDDA said.

Before June 2010, Taiwanese residents in Norway had “Taiwan” listed on their residence cards. However, after Norway’s then-foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store confirmed to parliament that Norway is pursuing a “one-China” policy, the nationality of Taiwanese was recorded as “Chinese” by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

The campaign attempted to address this by filing a complaint to the UDI in 2017. When that failed, they filed a lawsuit in the Nordic country’s Supreme Court in November 2020.

However, the court ruled “the appeal cannot proceed,” with no further explanation given. It also ignored the group’s request to appear in court and right to a fair hearing. As a result, Joseph, decided to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and sue Norway for human rights violations.

“Our only hope is that our right to be treated and recognized as nationals of Taiwan could be respected by the state of residence, like our Taiwanese compatriots residing in many other European countries,” TDDA had previously cited Joseph as saying.

The campaign will announce its future plans after discussions with lawyers in September.